Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fifty - Part 2

Day three of the trip.  Second day on the train. After stopping at Reno, the train has to get over the Cascade Range.  This route was part of the original transcontinental railroad.  Four guys from San Francisco chartered the Central Pacific Railroad and construction started from the American River in Sacramento up and over Donner Pass.  The original right of way is still in use in large part 140 years later.  The Central Pacific became part of the Southern Pacific and the Southern Pacific was eventually swallowed up by the Union Pacific.

Heading up the west slope

Donner Lake.  Where the Donner party wintered on their ill-fated journey.  Cost them an arm and a leg...and a foot.....and a.....(sorry)

The railroad snakes it's way to the summit.

One of many snow sheds on the route.  Lots up snow on Donner. Quite a bit left in May
Roseville.  A major location on the Union Pacific RR at the base of the Cascades.

Still some SP heritage around

We finally arrive at Emeryville and take an Amtrak bus to SF.
Funny story.  Okay, maybe "funny" is the wrong word.  We hop off the train at Emeryville and find our connecting "Amtrak Thruway" bus to downtown San Francisco.  The bus makes several stops downtown.  The one we want is Union Square.  Our hotel is three blocks north and one block west from there.  Simple.  Except the driver opines that it might be a "dangerous" walk - lots of panhandlers and homeless in SF, you know -  and we should hop off at the first stop and take a cab a mile to the hotel.  "Nonsense", I say.  "We will walk." I hate cabs and certainly don't want to pay $30 in place of a short walk.  Homeless and panhandlers?  That's just life in the big city.  Or, maybe it's just me being stubborn and cheap.  Probably the latter... But, now Patti has her radar up and running.  "Where, exactly, is this hotel of ours?"  and  "Why don't you listen to the bus driver?"  and then silence.  Uh, oh.

As it turns out, it was just a short walk, albeit uphill, from Union Square to our hotel.  That is was after business hours made the trip a bit more interesting than during mid-day, but the area was largely residential and really wasn't scary at all.  The worst part was schlepping the suitcases uphill!  The hotel ,Petite Auberge, was terrific and very reasonably priced.

A fireplace, even!
The next day, we headed back to Union Square and purchased some Muni transit passes.  The passes were good on all the trolleys and buses, and even on the cable cars.

The best transit line in SF was the  F line.  It ran rebuild historical trolley cars, painted for the transit companies around the world that ran them.  The F line ran down Market St and then down the Embarcadero to Fisherman's wharf.  A most convenient line for tourists.

Philadelphia Transit Company

Looking down the track on the Emabarcadero



Louisville car by the Ferry Terminal
Ferry Terminal
A quick check of the Amtrak ticket office adjacent to the Ferry Terminal revealed that Amtrak had one day excursions to Yosemite.  Yosemite!  I always wanted to go there!  We asked about tickets.  No good.  A land slide had closed the road they use from Merced to the park.  We were "stuck" in San Francisco!  (We did get to Yosemite a year later on a family vacation...)

"Crabby Patti?"

Soup in a sourdough bowl! 

no caption necessary

"get a grip"

Riding on the inside

Near Union Square
Spinning the car by hand

What makes the cable cars go.
End of the line

We did a walking tour of the city.  It was pretty good except the tour guide kept pronouncing Beaux-Arts like "Boze Art" which just bugged me.  (Of course, the only reason I knew it was Beaux-Arts was that Grand Central Terminal in NYC is in that style...)  Lots of info on the city before and after the 1908 earthquake and fire.

City Hall

We also took a ferry to Alcatraz.  While we were waiting, an arriving ferry crashed into the pier, splintering the adjacent walkway and toppling many of the passengers to the deck.  Lots of paramedics on the scene, but it turned out that no one was seriously hurt. 

The blue and white boat on the right was the ferry that crashed.

Noisy sea lions

Our hotel cell room that was rehabbed for a movie somewhere along the line.

I always knew she was trouble....

"Michigan Avenue"

Being that San Francisco was build on great, natural harbor, it wasn't surprising that it has a National Historic site that is a maritime museum.  Lots of cool, old ships and boats.

Steam powered ferry that took people from the railroad terminal in Oakland to San Francisco

Vintage cars on the ferry

This is where you control the big, triple expansion steam engines.

Hey!  Shouldn't you be watching where you're going?

An old tug

The National Historic site is on Hyde Pier.

The city is still a major port.  

Containers from Asia pass under the Bay Bridge

We also trekked around the city ourselves a bit.  We went up to the top of Coit Tower.

View from the top.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip, just too short.  

Fifty is just a number.  For me, it was a very good number.  If you can do a trip like this to commemorate it, then I highly recommend turning 50.

Hmmm.   Where to go when I turn 60?


  1. Nicely done. This really holds up after 10 years.

  2. I hate to break it to you, but "boze-art" is in fact the correct English pronunciation of "beaux-arts," as attested by the OED.

    (I'm a linguistic descriptivist, so I use "correct" here to mean "most commonly spoken and understood.")


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